Roberto Szidon

Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas

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Long out of print and desperately sought by fans, Roberto Szidon's legendary recordings of Scriabin's piano sonatas were part of a major revival in the early '70s, which also yielded the celebrated recordings by Ruth Laredo, Michael Ponti, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. With this 2004 reissue, Szidon's performances may be compared to these others and not found wanting. Indeed, Szidon's are superior in many regards, and notwithstanding preferences for more familiar readings, this set will win many converts. Szidon has all the clarity of Laredo, none of the cloudiness of Ponti, and his visceral excitement matches Ashkenazy at every point, though without headlong rushing. The playing is fluid and spontaneous, in keeping with Scriabin's myriad directions on expression and volatile dynamic changes; yet Szidon's interpretations are never so frenetic that the music's rhythms are forgotten. Played precisely, in tempo, the sonatas are often flirtatious and dance-like, and this impulse contributes greatly to the music's delicacy and eroticism. Reissued in Deutsche Grammophon's Trio series, the set also includes the Fantaisie in B minor, which serves as a bridge to Scriabin's mature style and sets up the Sonata No. 4 and the later works nicely. The recorded sound is astonishing for analog, and the splendid digital transfer preserves Szidon's highly nuanced colors and dynamics.

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